London: Global rights watchdog Amnesty International has asked Pakistan to bring those responsible for the killing of a Christian couple, accused of blasphemy, to justice.
"Those responsible must be brought to justice and the Pakistani authorities have to ensure at-risk communities are proactively given the protection they need.
"This vicious mob killing is just the latest manifestation of the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation, although religious minorities are disproportionately vulnerable," David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific said yesterday.
The Christian couple?was yesterday thrashed and burnt alive by a group of angry Muslims in Pakistan's Punjab province for allegedly desecrating the Quran. The horrific crime was reported from the villages of Kot Radha Kishan of Kasur district, some 50 kilometres from Lahore.
"This type of violence is fuelled by Pakistan's repressive blasphemy laws, which add to the climate of fear for religious minorities. A mere accusation of blasphemy is often enough to put a person and their wider community in danger.
"In this case, a mob appears to have played judge, jury and executioner. The blasphemy laws violate international human rights law and standards and should be reformed as a matter of urgency to provide effective safeguards against their abuse, with a view to their eventual repeal," Griffiths said.
Amnesty said that consistent failure by the government to tackle violence in the name of religion has effectively sent the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defence of religious sentiments.
The Punjab provincial government has reportedly set up a committee to fast track the investigation into the killings and ordered additional police protection to Christian neighbourhoods in the province.
"The local government's response is encouraging but it remains to be seen what comes of the investigation.
"The climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan is pervasive, and it is all too rare that those behind attacks are held to account," said David Griffiths.